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Celebrities PopWrapped | Celebrities

South Africa's Beloved Madiba & 1st Black President, Nelson Mandela, Dead At 95

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


12/05/2013 5:27 pm
PopWrapped | Celebrities
South Africa's Beloved Madiba & 1st Black President, Nelson Mandela, Dead At 95

Clare Sidoti

Managing Editor

At the ripe old age of 95 years old and with deteriorating health that has seen him in and out of hospital in the past year, it is with great sadness but with no surprise that we have learnt of the death of one of South Africa’s and the world’s greatest humanitarians. Within the past hour South African President Jacob Zuma has confirmed the news saying, "Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th of December, 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son." Born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei on 18 July 1918, Rolihlahla Mandela became one of the leading figures in South Africa’s fight against apartheid, finally winning his freedom and being elected the country’s first ever black president. However, his was a life of tragedy, fights and struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Following his father’s death while still a child, Mandela became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni. He attended primary school in Qunu where, as was the custom of the time of giving children ‘Christian’ names, a teacher gave him the name ‘Nelson’. A naturally inquisitive child, he completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and matriculated from Healdtown. He started a BA at the University College of Fort Hare but following a student protest he was expelled from the University and had to complete his BA through the University of South Africa, though he did attend graduation at Fort Hare in 1943. Together with his cousin Justice, they ran away to Johannesburg in 1941 where he spent some time working as a mine security officer before doing his articles through the law firm Witkin Eidelman and Sidelsky. As apartheid reigned in South Africa, Mandela started getting more and more involved with politics from 1942. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944 and helped form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). He rose through the ANCYL and in 1952 he was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of their Defiance Campaign. This campaign consisted of act of civil disobedience against six unjust laws and led to Mandela and 19 others being charged under the Suppression of Communism Act. They were sentenced to nine months hard labour suspended for two years. Mandela went back to study and on obtaining a law diploma he and Oliver Tambo established the first black law firm in South Africa, Mandela and Tambo, in August 1952. But by the end of that year he was banned from practicing law for the first time. On 5 December 1955 Mandela was one of 156 activists that were arrested in a countrywide swoop. This lead to the 1956 Treason Trial where he was finally acquitted on 29 March 1961. Following his acquittal, Mandela went underground and planned nation-wide strikes for the end of March. These were called off, but in June of that year he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation). Adopting the cover of David Motsamayi, Mandela fled South Africa in January 1962 drumming up support for the cause in other parts of Africa and the UK. He also visited Morocco and Ethiopia where he gained military training. He returned to South Africa in July, but was subsequently arrested in early August for leaving the country illegally and inciting worked to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Following a raid of an ANC and Communist Party secret hide-out in 1963, Mandela and nine others were on trial for sabotage. Facing the possibility of the death penalty, on the 20th April 1964 in what has become known as the ‘Speech from the Dock’, Mandela addressed the court saying: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” On 11 June 1964, Mandela and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment. Denis Goldberg, the sole white accused, was sent to Pretoria Prison, while Mandela and the other ‘blacks’ were taken to Robben Island. There he stayed until 1982 when he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town. Through the late 80s he attempted to initiate talks between the apartheid government and the ANC from his prison cell. He was finally released on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and almost four months after his fellow accused were released. Following his release Mandela worked tirelessly to end the white minority rule in South Africa. In 1991 he was elected ANC President. In 1993, with President FW de Klerk, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On 27 April 1994, at almost 76 years of age, he was able to vote for the first time in his life. The next month he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. He served one term as President, stepping down in 1999 and focusing his efforts on humanitarian and human rights causes, especially poverty and HIV/AIDS. He set up the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund along with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela-Rhodes Foundation. Nelson Mandela is survived by his second wife Graca; his daughter Makaziwe by his first marriage, and daughters Zindzi and Zenani by his second, as well as many grand- and great grandchildren We at PopWrapped join South Africans and the world to mourn the passing of this great man.


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